Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why You (And I) Shouldn't Take Breaks

Source: via Kimberly on Pinterest
I am supposed to write a post for this blog every Tuesday and Friday, but this past Friday I simply forgot. What with finishing finals, packing up to go home, and trying to get my dorm apartment clean enough to leave it, the fact that it was Friday and therefore a blog post was due simply never crossed my mind.

For this, I am deeply sorry. I love writing blog posts, even when I don't know what to write, and I intend to continue to try and make my schedule as often as possible.

However, I learned a valuable lesson from missing a day. As I sat down at my computer today and thought about what to write, it seemed as though I was more reluctant than usual to write something. The ideas were jumbled and confused, which was normal, but I couldn't seem to settle on one.

I realized that, by taking a break from blogging, I had broken my flow. Last time I missed Friday, I simply posted on Saturday, no big deal. This time, I didn't even attempt to make it up, because I wasn't able to try until Sunday and it didn't seem worth it to me.

One of the most commonly suggested ways to break writers block is to take a break from the writing. Walk away, set it down, come back to it later.

I am here to say taking a break may not be such a good idea.
Maybe it's what you need sometimes, maybe you'll go crazy if you don't set the story down and take a breather, but it's not the cure-all it's claimed to be.

When I take too long of a break, I lose the thread of what I was saying. I forget the word I meant to use next, I don't remember why it made sense for him to jump out that window, and most importantly I lose the mindset I was in that let me write at all.

I was in the mindset of "write a blog post twice a week." Now I'm struggling to reclaim my dedication. Some writers might make a point to cut off their writing in the middle of an excellent sentence; I tried that once and had to scrap the whole paragraph.

Maybe taking breaks works for some people, but when I leave a project alone for too long I lose whatever it is that drives me to write. Consistently working on a single project makes me feel more successful and helps me complete it. If I take too much of a break, I risk losing everything that drives me.

I don't mean to say that all breaks are terrible; there are certainly plenty of legitimate reasons to need a break, such as being burned out by writing too hard or being completely overwhelmed with ideas. Maybe a walk in the park is exactly what you need right now.

The kind of break I am cautioning against is the break that sneaks its way into your day and claims it's legitimately there; a laziness break. When you have time to write and the ability to write but you don't, that's the kind of break that is detrimental to your writing.

I want to write every day, even if it's not very much. The only way I can maintain my writing skill is to keep writing, and if I tell myself I'm on "break" and don't have to write, then I'll lose my ability.

Ultimately, it comes down to self-knowledge. If you truly need a break, take one, but be sure you're not claiming a break as a excuse to slack off.

Word of the Day: Day, noun: A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.  Ambrose Bierce, courtesy of Quote Garden.


  1. I can totally identify with what you're saying here. I'd need medication if I stopped in the middle of the perfect sentence or paragraph. (Scenes are a bit different though.) It's all mindset, I think. The mind goes many places. It may never stop at that same intersection again.

    1. Heh. It was suggested to me and I thought I'd give it a go. Live and learn, right?

  2. The flow seems to be all important with me, especially in the realm of blogging. I took a break recently, and I'm finding it so hard to get back into the swing of it. It's the same with writing. And I never leave off in the middle of a sentence or paragraph, though often in the middle of a scene. I'd go crazy if I had to try and remember the end of the sentence first off in a writing session.

    1. I'm glad someone else has had the same experiences I've had. =D Makes us all feel a little more connected, I think, to know someone out there has gone through the same thing you have.